World art history

All posts tagged World art history

All the Landscapes: Gutai’s World

by Alexandra_Munroe on June 10, 2013

Originally published in Gutai: Splendid Playground. © 2013 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Used by permission.


We are following the path that will lead to an international common ground where the arts of the East and the West will influence each other. And this is the natural course of the history of art.
—Yoshihara Jirō, “A Statement by Jirō Yoshihara: Leader of the Gutai,” 1958[1]

 In politics, totalitarianism fails; in culture, that which is unfree and akin to totalitarianism must be purged…. If you believe that your art has a spiritual meaning and it helps you develop yourself, such art will truly be on the cutting edge of global culture.
—Shiraga Kazuo, “The Establishment of the Individual,” 1956[2]

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Alexandra_MunroeAll the Landscapes: Gutai’s World

Take Away My Authority

by Alexandra_Munroe on May 15, 2012

Originally published in Model Home, A Proposition by Michael Lin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.


The aim of this show is to take away my authority and to bring in as many other people as possible…. A lot of things are being left open. not because of lack of time but because the material of the process is the subject.

Michael Lin[1]

In this kind of space, science turns into poetics. Architecture becomes the framework in which this can occur.
Yoshihara Tsukamoto[2]

In 1971, the Italian artist Alghiero e Boetti travelled to Afghanistan and set up an embroidery workshop at a hotel in Kabul. Working with local antiquities dealers, he gathered a group of craftswomen to produce a hand-embroidered map of the world. Following the artist’s directives, the Afghan embroiderers represented each country’s territory by the patterns and colors of its national flag. This relationship, subverting divisions between artist  and maker and giving concept, method and process equal significance in the final work of art, engaged Boetti until his death in 1994 and resulted in his bestknown series, Mappa. At first, Boetti was meticulous in laying out each new map, selecting the color thread for each diagram and checking errors as work progressed over months or years. But as the series continued, he became interested in the chance mistakes the anonymous, commonly illiterate Afghan women made, particularly in their choice of color for the ocean, whose nature they had never seen: the blue morphed into green, purple, and even pink. National flags changed, too, as new territorial divisions and political identities came into being in the wake of wars, revolutions and regime changes. Inscriptions in Farsi drafted by Boetti’s coordinators make up the borders of each Mappa, usually recounting the circumstances of the local production, quoting Sufi poetry, and dating works according to the Islamic Afghan calendar. After the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by Russian troops, Boetti’s production moved to Peshawar in Pakistan, where the group of Afghans had taken refuge.

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Alexandra_MunroeTake Away My Authority

Stand Still a Moment

by Alexandra_Munroe on June 10, 2011

Originally published in Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity. © 2011 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Used by permission.


In the midst of beings as a whole an open place comes to presence. There is a clearing.
—Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”[1]

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Alexandra_MunroeStand Still a Moment

Art of Perceptual Experience: Pure Abstraction and Ecstatic Minimalism

by Alexandra_Munroe on April 4, 2009

Originally published in The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989. © 2009 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Used by permission.


From 1961 until his death in 1967, Ad Reinhardt exclusively painted black square canvases measuring five by five feet, each with subtle attenuations of dark tones and a vaguely discernable cross structure trisecting the powdery-dry, matte surface into nine symmetrical squares (Abstract Painting, plate 127). This series coincided with his 1961 trip to Syria, Jordan, and Turkey to study Islamic architecture and decoration, whose repetitive, geometric, symmetrical, and aniconic sacred forms (“imageless icons”) held intense interest for him. In 1962, he wrote to his friend, the Trappist monk and interfaith theologian Thomas Merton, that he had become a “white Muslim,” able to “find [himself] among anti-imagists, anti-idolatrists, pro-iconoclasts, and nonobjectivists.”[1] Reinhardt based his repetitive, prescribed craft, which culminated in his black paintings, on the ritualized and diagrammatic approach to object-making in Islamic as well as Asian cultures. In language that echoes his reverent descriptions of Buddhist sculptures, Tantric mandalas, and Chinese landscape paintings, Reinhardt declared his black paintings to be “pure, abstract, non-objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relationless, disinterested painting … object[s] that [are] self-conscious (no unconsciousness), ideal, transcendent, aware of nothing but Art (absolutely no anti-art).”[2] For the 1966 retrospective of his work at the Jewish Museum, he wrote that these works are “a logical development of personal art history and the historic traditions of Eastern and Western pure painting.”[3]

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Alexandra_MunroeArt of Perceptual Experience: Pure Abstraction and Ecstatic Minimalism

Cai Guo Qiang: I Want to Believe

by Alexandra_Munroe on June 10, 2008

Originally published in Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe. © 2008 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Used by permission.


Artists have a way of filling their work spaces with images and artifacts that have talismanic power, and Cai Guo-Qiang is no exception. A Chinese stone lion guards the entrance way to his large, garden studio in Manhattan’s East Village. A full-page newspaper advertisement reproducing a majestic El Greco painting is taped to a door, and a multipanel gunpowder drawing of an eagle with wings fully spread – Cai’s Man, Eagle, and Eye in the Sky: The Age of the Eagle (2004, fig. 80) – occupies a place of honor, watching over and blessing the studio’s activities. The most unexpected and arresting icon, however, is a poster depicting a UFO hovering in the sky above a bucolic landscape printed over with the words “I Want To Believe.”

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Alexandra_MunroeCai Guo Qiang: I Want to Believe